What is the difference between conventional dog treats and “all natural dog treats”? What are “all natural dog treats” made from? How do I know my “all natural dog treats” are really “all natural? Are “all natural dog treats” healthier and more nutritious than standard dog treats? How do I determine what the healthiest “all natural dog treats” are?
Before we answer any of these questions, we first need to understand the definition of “all natural” in the food industry. Next, we must read the complete ingredient content on the labels of the all natural dog treats in question. This would indicate what these all natural dog treats are made from. In turn, this would help us establish if the ingredients are wholly all natural, which would tell us if the all natural dog treats are more nutritious. And all of this would tell us if the all natural dog treats are actually healthy dog treats! Dog-whewww!
The meaning of the term “natural”
The meaning of the word “natural” in the dictionary has many variations. However, the term “natural” when used in food is quite basic.
- Existing in or produced by nature.
- Not altered, treated, or disguised: natural coloring and natural produce.
- A state of nature; uncultivated, as land.
- Having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical or artificial additives: natural food.
- Natural, raw (used especially of commodities), being unprocessed or manufactured using only simple or minimal processes.
The meaning of the term “natural” on labels of “All Natural Dog Treats”
The FDA has not provided an official definition for the use of the word “natural” on all natural dog treats or pet food labels. The use of the term “natural” is specifically permitted on food labels if the food product does not contain artificial flavors, synthetic substances, or artificial colors. The term “natural” is not acceptable in ingredient listings on labels for all natural dog treats or other food labels. The only exemption is the phrase, “natural flavor”.
However, AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officers) has defined “Guidelines for Natural Claims” for all natural dog treats and other pet foods, including what types of ingredients can be considered “natural”. Artificial flavors, artificial colors, and artificial preservatives should not be present in all natural dog treats and pet foods labeled as “natural”. Although, there is one exception: it must be from an approved source and used in human foods. An example is a preservative that must be used in all natural dog treats, dry pet food, and some human food products containing high fats to prevent rancidity. Natural preservatives are not as effective in preventing rancidification, so they are not used.
With the acceptance of chemical preservatives in all natural dog treats, the meaning of the word natural becomes redundant. All natural dog treats or pet foods labeled “all natural” may not truly be “all natural”. Don’t be fooled by labels that state “all natural”. Thoroughly read all ingredients listed on the all natural dog treats label.
Review the order of the contents listed on the all natural dog treats label. This will inform you how much of that ingredient is present. For instance, the first ingredient listed shows that it is most prevalent in the product.
To avoid confusion, the term “Organic” in organic dog treats and the term “All Natural” in all natural dog treats have completely unrelated meanings and are NOT analogous.
Natural By-Products in “All Natural Dog Treats”
All natural dog treats containing by-products derived from a natural product are considered “all natural” so defining all natural dog treats or any food product containing these natural by-products to be “all natural” is debatable, considering that these by-products are typically processed and no longer in their natural state.
Answering the Key Question
Are “all natural dog treats” a healthier and more nutritious choice for my dog?
The answer: NOT necessarily.
As the consumer, it is vital to do your homework. Do not be misled by the words “all natural” on labels. It is up to you to choose the appropriate all natural dog treats that best compliment your dog’s nutritional wellbeing. READ, READ, READ!
In selecting a healthier all natural dog treat for your dog, choose all natural dog treats that are low in fats and do not contain any added chemical preservatives or even “all natural” by-products.